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MSU emergency vet clinic gets dog back on his feet
By Brandi Van Ormer
MSU College of Veterinary Medicine
FLOWOOD, Miss. -- Most amazing stories begin on a normal day, and the story of a collie named Lad was no different.
But what started as a routine day of play ended with a long-term relationship with experts at the Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine’s affiliate emergency and specialty center in Flowood.
While his owner, Tommy Foster, was mowing the back lawn one afternoon, Lad enjoyed a visit with the neighbor’s dogs and a quick dip in his wading pool, and then he took off again. When Foster finished mowing, he called for his dog and heard only a distant whine in answer.
Concerned, Foster enlisted the help of his neighbor Stan Pope, and the two went out in search of Lad. They walked down a railroad track near Foster’s house in Clinton in the direction of Lad’s cries. Eventually they found the dog on the track, unable to stand, with cuts on his head.
Lad had been hit by a train.
While his neighbor ran for a wheelbarrow to help move the injured dog, Foster waited with Lad while filled with a growing horror that his pet would not make it. Foster had owned Lad for only 9 months, but the sweet-natured, long-nosed puppy he had gotten at 6 weeks old had quickly won his heart.
Although it seemed much longer to Foster, Pope returned with a wheelbarrow after a few minutes. The two men were able to transport Lad to the office of Dr. Rodney Walker in Clinton.
X-rays revealed that Lad had suffered much more than a knock on the head. At the very least, he had a dislocated right femur and multiple pelvic fractures. Walker told Foster that it was a miracle Lad was even alive, much less alert.
Lad’s injuries were so severe that Walker referred Foster to the MSU Animal Emergency and Referral Clinic in Flowood. This clinic, an affiliate service of the MSU College of Veterinary Medicine, provides veterinary emergency and specialty care services to pet owners in the Jackson area.
From the emergency staff members who first treated Lad on his arrival to the surgical team who worked to repair his multiple injuries, everyone at the emergency clinic quickly fell in love with the lucky collie and his family.
Board-certified veterinary surgeon Dr. Dena Lodato quickly got to work on Lad, repairing his left side on a Monday and his right side on the following Wednesday. Although both complex surgeries were successful, Lad still had long, difficult road to recovery ahead of him.
“Well, we put Humpty Dumpty together again . . . the rest is up to Lad,” Lodato said.
For the next few months, Foster, his family and his neighbor were dedicated to Lad’s rehab sessions (up to three times per day) and to bringing him back to the clinic for suture removals and multiple checkups.
“Lad the Wonder Dog” became a celebrity at the Animal Emergency and Referral Clinic.
“For a dog with such extensive injuries, Lad has really made a remarkable recovery,” said Lodato, who earned her veterinary degree at MSU. “A large part of that is the work that Mr. Foster and his family and friends did to keep up with his rehab exercises after surgery.”
Foster, a retired professor of physiotherapy and former coach, admitted he took it easy on Lad at first.
“I was very cautious during our rehab sessions, always using the sling to support his back end and always taking small steps,” he said.
This all changed when Nancy Bennett, certified veterinary technician and member of the emergency clinic’s surgical team, saw Lad during a routine staple removal appointment.
“Nancy came to the parking lot to get Lad out of the car, and he just walked out to meet her on his own!” Foster said. “We realized we’d been babying him, and he’d been ‘playing’ us a little bit. He likes women, so he’d always do a little more for Nancy or my sister than he would Stan or me.”
Bennett assured the family that Lad was indeed solid and capable of pushing harder, so Foster and his rehab team stepped up their efforts. From that point, Lad progressed quickly. Only a month after the accident, he was walking down the street and back, as well as romping with the neighbor dog Sam and Foster’s other dog, Pepper.
In June, Lad celebrated his first birthday. His prognosis is excellent, his hair is growing back, and Foster is awakened every morning to Lad’s long nose prodding at him.
Foster admitted it was a long, hard road.
“But would I do it again? No question, I would,” he said.
Contact: Karen Templeton, 662-325-1100